Increasingly editors are interested in two things in fiction (1) adventure and (2) something a boy might read. But many writers are stuck when it comes to thinking about adventure. What makes up an adventure and can you do it well in 2,000 words or less (sometimes a lot less). Sure you can. After all, Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a perfect adventure story in 336 words.

The adventure story is the basis for so many classic myths and legends–so much so that “The Hero’s Journey” has become almost a guidebook for adventure. So how could the circular structure of the basic “Hero’s Journey” help us craft a magazine adventure story? Let’s begin by looking at a simplified version of the Hero’s Journey structure, keeping in mind that for magazine fiction, the story must focus on the main character:

Ordinary World
– Stories begin just before the thing that ultimately changes the main character.

Call to Adventure – A need arises, the main character has a challenge.

Refusal/Commitment – The main character resists the challenge, doesn’t want to undertake the task but ultimately accepts that the challenge cannot be avoided.

Approaching the First Ordeal – The main character begins to understand the size of the challenge and the stakes are raised.

Ordeal – Main character faces a serious challenge and overcomes.

Reward – A time of rest for the main character, sometimes a false sense of completion.

The Road/Resurrection – More complications, when things look much worse than expected and the biggest challenge met.

Mastery – The adventure resolves, often a sense of coming full circle. The main character has changed.

For examples on how to take your character on a hero’s journey, take a listen to the full episode.

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